How to Pack Without Wrinkles

Are you traveling for the holidays? (We’re going to California to visit Alex’s family, and I’m excited to escape this insanely cold weather.) Well, if you’re packing bags, we just discovered a cool way to pack clothes without wrinkles. Here’s how…

Here are the easy steps:

1. Lay pants flat in the suitcase, so the waistbands line up with the edge and the legs hang out.
2. Lay the things that are most likely to wrinkle—like blouses and shirts—on top, so the collars line up with the edge of the suitcase and the sleeves hang out.
3. Place heavier sweaters and dresses on top.
4. Put your socks and underwear into a small bag. Place the bag in the center of the suitcase. This little “pillow” will keep your clothes from wrinkling.
5-7. Gently fold the ends of your clothing around the tote bag.
8. Tuck your shoes, belts and toiletries bag around the clothes.

Voila! A perfectly-packed suitcase. And when you arrive, your clothes will be wrinkle-free.

P.S. And if your clothes DO wrinkle, try this! Plus, a brilliant honeymoon packing tip.

(Photos by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo. Tips found on wikiHow—thanks, Mom)

  1. Thanks for the tip! I used to do the rolling method (layer all pants on top of each other, folded in half, and roll into a cylinder, repeat with shirts). Also, that Jhumpa Lahiri book is amazing. I love her writing!

  2. love the suitcase!!also, thanks for the tips :)

  3. My mom first read about this packing style on some NHK (Japanese) channel 20 years ago and I agree with another commenter…while very space-efficient, it makes getting anything out very time-consuming (unrolling, re-rolling). I sent my mom your post and she added, “they forgot to stick their socks in the shoes to keep the form and save even MORE space” hehe

  4. P.S. (From someone who just finished packing her suitcase) Where / how do you pack your bras? I am always concerned about squishing them!

  5. This is genius! Packing for suitcases is such a chore.

  6. This is an awesome trick. I dont know why I never looked up something like this before. We actually just went to California this weekend. We flew in yesterday and are only staying for a few days but its really great to get away from the cold in New York.
    Hope packing and traveling is a breeze for you and the family when you head to California!

  7. Clever idea! Nice to know and I will definitely be remembering this since I travel often! – Absolutely love your suitcase too! :)

  8. What a clever idea! I travel at least 3 times a year so defo going to try this trick next time! I usually pack stuff like shoes and accessories around the sides too x

  9. I normally roll clothes, but this is interesting too.

    I’m also totally mystified how it is possible to take a 2 week trip (even a one week trip) using one carry-on bag. I just can’t even imagine how that could be done.

    Another tip – make sure you put some of everyone’s clothes in each case – that way if a bag gets lost, you are not totally without underwear and a change of clothes!

  10. I’ve got a couple of weekend trips coming up that this will be perfect for! Love the adorable suitcase too!

  11. Cute suitcase!

    You know how you feel about elevators? That’s probably similar to how i feel about seeing shoes uncovered in a suitcase. I just….eeeeeeeeek!!! I think about all the gross bar bathrooms I’ve ever been in all over the fabric (fabric of the suitcase and the clean clothes). I want to wash my hands right now.

    Otherwise, cool tip! I’m a roller (but i do a giant roll, so it looks similar). Just got back from 2 weeks in Australia and New Zealand using just a carry on! :D

  12. These are great tips! I have to pack for a freezing cold location and a desert location in one carry-on bag. I have no idea how it’s going to work!
    In Dramatic Fashion

  13. Great tip! And so much easier/faster than rolling up your clothes. Not to mention that doesn’t always help with the wrinkles. This way seems like it would work though!

  14. Alternatively, if you don’t care so much about wrinkles, you could do like I do and just hand a pile of clothes over to your anal-retentive husband who can’t stand wasted space in suitcases and thinks everyone else but him packs badly, and let him do the suitcase jigsaw puzzle dance :)

  15. Joanna, it would be interesting to read a post about how you and Alex share holidays with both your families, especially with kids! xo

  16. This is how I pack! Plus, valuables/breakables can go in the middle :)

  17. This is awesome – will definitely be trying this over Christmas!

  18. Oh hi! This post was so spot on, it’s spooky! I’m just about to embark on a massive US vacay and this couldn’t have been more useful! Thanks so much for the tip! I never quite know what to do with socks and end up passing the corners with them!

  19. I will try it the next time. I like the space saver bags also and use them for my little pillows that travel with me.

  20. I roll my tshirts and fold the pants or jeans around them.

    BTW, we are having really bad weather here in California right now. Hope by the time you come here, the storm is gone away…

  21. I definitely do the pants thing – laying them across.

    Other tips:

    -Sometimes I wrap highly-wrinkle prone things in tissue paper.

    -I always pack one of those space saver bags – at the end of the trip, I stuff all my dirty clothes (except things like blazers or jeans) in the bag and compress it. Makes a lot more room for anything I bought or want to consolidate with other bags.

  22. My only thing to add to that the shoes should go inside a shoe bag, as you don’t want dirty soles to touch your clean clothes.

  23. I found that packing things on top of the slidey plastic that comes with dry cleaning, keeps them from wrinkling too. I just wrap /fold things in the plastic .. it is also extra protection from any wet damage that might come into the suitcase.

    * Paris – soaking rain. luggage left out on tarmac . unpack in hotel. guide book with red cover is wet. white sweater under guide book is ruined. *

  24. Yes! that’s how I pack! I don’t understand rolling up every article of clothing. I even fold dirty clothes to go home because they take up less space that way.

  25. This is great – very impressed with the minimalist packing too! PS Who makes that lovely grey ribbed sweater?

  26. I’ve done this & the primary negative is that you have to completely unpack to get to anything… this approach makes it so much harder to just get to that one shirt you’re looking for! :)

  27. I roll my clothes. You definitely fit a lot more in the suitcase.

  28. I LOVE those flats!!! Are you willing to share where you got them? I must add them to my closet :)

  29. I packed like that when I went to Europe for a week with a carry-on! It’s amazing what you can fit when everything is laid flat!

  30. I’m packing the same book! I’ll finally have time to read it with all the free childcare (aka grandparents, aunts and uncles!).

  31. That was much more beautiful than wikihow. Enjoyed this!

  32. Genius! We’re heading to India, for a wedding :) Thanks Joanna!

  33. I am laughing at your suitcase. where are the wheels?? That is so old school. Love it!

  34. Ah! I remember seeing this trick before, but somehow forgot about it! Just in time!